The most sacred symbol in Oklahoma City is a tree: a sprawling, shade-bearing, eighty year old American elm. Tourists drive for miles to see her. People pose for pictures beneath her. Other trees grow larger, fuller, even greener. But not one is equally cherished. The city treasures that tree, not for her appearance but her endurance.
She endured the Oklahoma City bombing.
A monster of a man parked his death-laden truck only yards from her. His malice killed 168 people, wounded 850 others, destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, and buried the tree in rubble. No one expected it to survive. No one, in fact, gave any thought to the dusty branch stripped tree.
But then she began to bud.
Sprouts pressed through damaged bark; green leaves pushed away grey soot. Life resurrected from death. People noticed. The tree modeled the resilience the victims desired. So they gave the elm tree a name: the Survivor Tree.
There are still monsters in our lives that rock our world. They still maim and scare us. We want to imitate that tree – survive the evil, rise above the ruin. But how?